Friday, October 16, 2009

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat--5th Ave

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
The 5th Avenue Theatre
October 10-November 1, 2009
Tickets and Information

The 5th Ave offers a night of care-free entertainment with the opening of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, the musical brainchild of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Though the story is straight from the Bible it is told quite untraditionally through a pastiche of musical styles and references, with everything from western hoedowns to reggae.

Photo by Christ Bennion.

Joseph is clearly the favorite son of Jacob, much to the chagrin of his 11 brothers. Born with the gift of interpreting dreams, Joseph is lavished with gifts and praise by his blissfully oblivious father. The brothers have had enough, so they sell Joseph into slavery and tell Jacob his favorite is dead. Through a series of unfortunate events, Joseph ends up imprisoned by the Egyptian Pharaoh, but Joseph successfully interprets the Pharaoh's dreams and quickly rises to second in command. When his 11 brothers unknowingly come begging for mercy and food, Joseph works his way arounf to forgiveness.

Anthony Federov, a former American Idol finalist, does respectably as the ever-optimistic dreamer Joseph (singing is clearly his gift; acting, not so much). Jennifer Paz commands attention as the Narrator with crystal-clear vocals and personality galore. But the stand-out performances go to Joseph's 11 brothers (too many to name--just go see them!) who strike the perfect balance between comedy and earnestness, especially in the cigarette-filled wails of "Those Canaan Days". Rounding out the cast is a chorus of children (finely tuned and obviously excited to be onstage--Seattle theatre is in no short supply of young talent).

Photo by Christ Bennion.

A show as technically heavy as this one takes a production team with lots of skill and drive. The set, designed by Martin Christoffel, provides an efficient use of space that serves all the action and foot traffic well. mark Thompson's costumes sparkle with appropriately bright colors and are rightly influenced by the endless party that was the 1970s (or so I'm told). Tom Sturge's lights are a powerful force, gently and not-so-gently coaxing the audience into the dance party atmosphere. At the helm of this technical disco extravaganze is James Rocco, the director. Rocco showcases the performers' heart and effort, which makes the cheesiness and good-natured fun worthwhile. Jayme McDaniel's choreography is creative and entertaining.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is much like cotton candy. There isn't much need for it all the time, but it is a fun and welcome addition to any diet--not to mention its's kid-friendly. Word to the wise: those who are sensitive to strobe lights should be wary!!!

Review by Kacey Shiflet.

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